Small Town Shabby

January 11, 2014

It’s a gorgeous day here. The above photo was taken earlier on the bank of a brackish section of river that empties into a bay, and thence into the Gulf of Mexico. You can’t tell from the photo (unless you closely observe the moss), but it’s very windy.

Last night when I was chauffeuring the younglings around, I caught snippets of an interview with Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, on NPR. It got me thinking about the moral implications of domestic help.

Fellowes said his background was considerably less posh than is generally assumed, meaning his family only had people in to cook and clean rather than maintaining a large live-in staff with very specific roles (bum swabber, scone butterer, etc.).

I’ve personally experienced the luxury of domestic help only for one brief period in my life, and ironically, it was the time I had the least use for a servant: I was a single 20-something, living alone in an apartment. A dear friend was in dire straits financially and had launched a cleaning service, so I agreed to be his twice-weekly customer.

While it was nice to live in a place with consistently clean floors, windows and toilets, where shelves were regularly dusted and cobwebs cleared away, I felt weird about it. I would have rather just given my friend the money, but he wouldn’t have accepted it as a gift.

This arrangement ended when I met my future husband and we moved to a different part of town. He occasionally jokes that we married under false pretenses since he assumed I was a better housekeeper than I actually am because my apartment was so clean back then.

But if he was deceived, it wasn’t for lack of honesty on my part: I told him straight up that slovenliness is my natural state, and he was an awful slob himself: His bachelor apartment wasn’t merely untidy, it was positively squalid.

For the last 15+ years, we’ve maintained a basically hygienic but often dusty and cluttered home. We’re both capable of tolerating a high degree of domestic chaos; ongoing home renovations haven’t fazed us.

We split the household chores pretty evenly. I shoulder the lion’s share of the indoor work in exchange for not having mowed a lawn since the Clinton administration nor having had to patrol the yard for dog poop. Works for me.

My sister and sister-in-law, who are wealthy and child-free, have a cleaning lady, pool service and lawn crew. I think if you have too much shit to take care of yourself, you have too much shit. But maybe that’s just sour grapes.

Well, off to the store. I’m making fish tacos later, and we’ll watch the playoff games with friends and family. (Geaux Saints! Go Colts!)

What are y’all up to? Please feel free to discuss your philosophy on domestic help, your plans for today, football or whatever.

92 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m feeling pretty good about the Texans hiring Romeo Crennel as their DC.
    I think he’s a great defensive-minded guy and will take a positive approach next year. We also hired Mike Vrabel as Linebacker Coach, so that’s a pretty stout move as well, IMO.
    Now if we can just manage our draft appropriately…

  2. 2
    tybee says:

    i’m glad to see that another family shares our housekeeping philosophy.

  3. 3
    Liberty60 says:

    I think if you have too much shit to take care of yourself, you have too much shit.

    Pretty much our philosophy.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    I found this article on Yahoo about Top 3 Needs for each NFL team for next season. What struck me was that for 31 teams I didn’t see “Running Back” listed for any of them as a top 3 need. Only Cleveland.
    Pretty telling about the changed nature of the NFL game.
    ETA, forgot the link:;nfl.html

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    Can anyone explain to me why Alabama hired Lane Kiffin? What, Saban wasn’t a big enough asshole?

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    Been reading through some older articles all about the GWB NJ “scandal”. It hadn’t really registered for me when it first came out, so I missed alot of background and context.
    But after skimming through a few, there is no way in hell that Christie was not aware the closure was done on purpose. The words “strains credulity” do not even come close to describing how preposterous the idea is that Christie did not know, at least the outlines, of what his staff was doing.
    He’s got like 5 people in his office that are all implicated/involved at this point.

  7. 7

    We have cleaning people who come in twice a month, because otherwise we would have long since been divorced. G is at a normal level if make slovenliness, but I’m the equivalent of a perpetually drunken frat boy. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that girls/women are somehow “naturally” good housekeepers, because it’s bullshit. Between my ADHD and the fact that I missed a big chunk of training between my mother’s illness and death and my stepmother’s moving in, I would live in squalor if I didn’t have cleaning people.

    Also, I hire them through Merry Maids, which is WAY more expensive, but at least I’m (probably) not exploiting illegal workers into the bargain.

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    Oh, and this fucking guy? He can go fuck himself.

    The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association rejected the notion that any of its members would allow themselves to be used, willingly or otherwise, in such a retaliatory scheme. PBA President Paul Nunziato, whose union was one of the first labor groups to endorse Christie last year, released a wry statement equating the scheme with far-fetched New Jersey folklore involving a famously vanished labor leader and a deceased real estate baroness.

    If anyone believed there really was such a scheme, Nunziato said through a spokesman, “then I would suggest that we’re going to find Jimmy Hoffa’s body on the Leona Helmsley property in Fort Lee.”

  9. 9
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Corner Stone: They (correctly) say the Bucs need a defensive end. I can think of one they should target: Starts with a “C” and ends with a “lowney.”

  10. 10
    srv says:

    What you own owns you.

  11. 11
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @Betty Cracker: SEC is determined to corner the market on everything in college ball, assholes included.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker: I was disappointed at the assessment for the Texans. While we clearly need better competition at QB, our #1 or #2 need has to be an athletic CB.
    IMO, we need to trade down and pick Justin Gilbert from Ok St U as our first round pick.
    Teddy Bridgewater scares me as too high a risk. And some of the other QB’s coming out may have better value in the 2nd round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the higher touts drop out of 1st round by the time the draft gets here.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): I’m the bad combination of hating to clean up and hating to live in a dirty place. Having a cleaning lady come in every two weeks preserves my sanity at a relatively low price. YMMV, but it works for me.

  14. 14
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Corner Stone: You don’t think they’ll go after Manziel?

  15. 15
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    but I’m the equivalent of a perpetually drunken frat boy

    This describes me as well, though my problem isn’t that I don’t like to clean, it’s that I’m a terrible procrastinator. Once I start, I could spend the entire day cleaning and organizing, as long ad I have some good music and cold drinks. Once I “take a break,” I lose momentum. I also prefer to be alone when I clean do I can think, bitch about it to myself, or sing and dance in my goofy ways to the music as I scrub. I fear the day my kids secretly record me cleaning and post it on YouTube.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I don’t really see any moral quandaries around having someone clean. I don’t have anyone doing it right now, but I have in the past a probably will in the future. I don’t repair my own car or cut my own hair, and I don’t really see how housekeeping is an inherently different service. The big thing is to pay an appropriate fee/wage and to treat the person or people as service providers not underlings.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker: The Texans? God no. Are you trying to make me cry?
    If they pick Manziel in the 1st round I will be outed in real life because you’ll be reading stories about, “Enraged Handsome Man Pummels Texans Owner”. “Other players unwilling to stop the beating.”

    Manziel will be an absolute bust in the NFL.

  18. 18
    hildebrand says:

    My wife and I both work jobs with extensive hours, and neither wants the other to have to clean on days off or after work, so we have always tried to hire a housekeeper. Our latest came in once a week, one week would only be a couple of hours, the other week about five or six. She was great, she always told our kids that she would wash sheets, dust, and vacuum, but if the room wasn’t passible, she wouldn’t clean. She did great work and loved our house, she always said it was ‘peaceful’. We were heartbroken over Christmas to learn that she had passed away, she was only 55, but alarmingly thin and frail. She wasn’t healthy enough to keep a regular job, but wanted to work.

    We have always thought that since we have two decent incomes (not great, a lecturer and Lutheran pastor aren’t particularly big paying gigs, but still decent) we should try to spread it around as best as possible, so we have a housekeeper, we have a couple of guys who run a very local business cut our grass, etc. etc. It may seem like we are rationalizing not doing housework, but we figure that by employing these folks in this small way, it is a way to let our incomes do a little bit of extra lifting. We pay well, knowing that people’s livelihood depends on good customers, and we always receive great service, so it is a win-win.

    We now have the task of finding a new housekeeper, but Kelly is going to be hard to replace.

  19. 19
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I don’t have a problem to hire a person to do shit, especially if they’re a professional. If you own a car, you’ve likely hired someone to fix it; if you own a pool, you might be better off hiring a dude who does pools all year round than fucking around with caustic chemicals yourself.

    It’s when you get all that classism in the mix that’s the problem–like Jon Stewart said the other day, the attitude that money hurts the poor but wealthy people have built up a money immunity. Hiring informal or “guest” or undocumented labor at rock bottom prices, cheating on the payroll taxes, paying “in kind”, verbally mistreating staff, all this kind of stuff is not cool.

    My grandmother grew up rich and although she settled into a more middle class life by the 50s and 60s (hey, income tax), she still had someone come in and help clean every week. But she and my grandfather (who certainly did not grow up rich) never treated them like they weren’t people. During the 60s and 70s when most domestic help was hired directly, my grandmother payed extra over the going “cash rate” to pay the payroll taxes. That allowed their longtime cleaning lady to retire with dignity. Every time I think about that i just start bawling like a baby. I am just frankly ashamedto live in a country where it’s considered acceptable not to pay the payroll taxes for domestic laborers. When I was treasurer for an organization I paid payroll tax on everyone who helped around the office for an hour (& filed all that stuff with the state and feds). But for some reason “cleaning ladies” come from another planet and payroll tax is not for them.

    This is one reason I don’t feel sorry AT ALL for that Indian diplomatic attache who just got busted for lying on a visa application and paying her live-in domestic help in NYC less than US minimum wage. Her whole attitude is that the servant was still getting a good, no, awesome deal. Because too much money isn’t good for her social class. She’ll get what she needs.


    Personally, I can’t do it all myself and while sometimes I have friends who will do stuff for me for free–I have some odd friends–I do occasionally hire people to clean and fix things for me. I ask around and hire direct and I’ve been known to pay extra because, honey, I’ve paid self-employment tax and I know how much that eats up. (But no need to worry about car repair guy. He can demand what he’s worth because your car stays a lawn ornament until you agree to pay.) Molly maids, merry maids disgust me. Shit, you know they make them race around in a van all day from job to job but they don’t give a flip how they get to work? Waiting out in the dark, cold, rain for the first bus of the day, two more buses to catch after that just to get there on time? Franchise owners are pimps.

    If people knew just how much folks on the bottom end of the labor market were exploited they’d stop bullshitting about how prostitution has to be banned because all prostitution is trafficking, and they’d stop deliberately conflating prostitutes’ security/bouncers with fucking pimps and arresting them, and so on. For those willing to take the risks, prostitution is an enormous step up from cleaning houses or cleaning hotel rooms and pays way the frack better. I’m not minimizing actual human trafficking here, which, btw, INCLUDES PEOPLE TRAFFICKED TO WORK IN MAQUILLADORAS. The moral panic freaks outta learn how the other half lives for a couple of years before they start bigfooting any attempt to improve the working and social conditions of prostitutes in the name of “human rights”. Where as the human rights for meat packers? Where are the human rights for day construction labor? Farm workers? Cleaning ladies? Fuck you, rich bubbleheads with an S-E-X fixation. Why don’t you do an expose on Chinese nationals who pay to get US citizenship and get robbed and trafficked into prison-factories in Southern California? Why does the government try unsuccessfully to prosecute human trafficking at “massage” parlors with weak, ineffective laws while actually COOPERATING with prison-factory owners by mass-deporting the victims when there’s a complaint? Nothing but a moral panic. You don’t give a shit about people. If you did you’d be even more outraged when farmers dumped toxic chemicals on the fields where farm labor was picking. But you aren’t. You won’t change federal and state law so that all kinds of slavery are easy to prosecute. But instead you say anyone who complains is just faking to get a green card. You aren’t really a feminist. You’re using the cloak of feminism to carry out your badly-disguised campaign of sexual competition against other women.


  20. 20
    MattF says:

    Bad news. According to Newsmax, Dick Morris is pessimistic about Christie. Oy.

  21. 21
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Corner Stone: Christie never said he didn’t know what they were planning to do. He didn’t know they had done something, in his words, so stupid. In other words, he didn’t know they had actually left a trail of incriminating emails and texts which are now going to end them and him.

  22. 22
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    Back off to watch the Gophers smack Ohio State around again. In three games so far this year we’ve outscored them 20-3 and that isn’t really a fluke. The Buckeyes are just a bad team.

    And we get a chalk talk today before the game. One of the coaches will spend about 45 minutes breaking down tape of last night’s game for us.

    And for anyone that wants to watch the best team in NCAA women’s hockey, tune into the Big10 Network at 7pm eastern tonight.

  23. 23
    Another Holocene Human says:

    These clowns were so dumb they thought using personal email would shield them from sunshine/foia disclosures, not realizing when you use the personal for official business it then becomes discoverable…

    Let’s have a big Rick Perry “Oops.”

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I read his denials in the press conf the other day a little differently.
    But in the end, the public won’t care about any nuanced position of his cleverly worded defense.
    They’ll just see that he was lying the whole time. Maybe that will take care of him as Gov, or maybe not. But he’s not going to be the R nom in 2016.

  25. 25
    CaseyL says:

    I’ve been getting my house cleaned professionally for the last few years, and it has made a huge difference in my life.

    I am a rotten housekeeper because I hate cleaning and therefore am capable of ignoring a messy house until it’s almost at visit-from-the-Health-Department levels of ick. (The weird thing is, when I did finally get my ass in gear to clean the place, I wouldn’t stop until every inch had been de-cluttered and scoured.)

    Not only does having someone come in to do the cleaning mean my home is never an eyesore – it also goads me into keeping the place neater on a regular basis, because the cleaning service only cleans. If I have left clothes on the bed or floor, I will find them neatly folded on the bed. If newspaper sections are left on the couch, I will find them neatly stacked on the couch.

    You know how people joke about tidying the place up before the cleaning service arrives? It’s not actually a joke. I do that. Put clothes away, paper in the recycling bin, dishes in dishwasher, etc.

  26. 26
    greennotGreen says:

    My housekeeper keeps me sane, and she does it for $80/week. When I go out of town, she takes care of my plants and pets (for a much larger, but in-keeping-with-the-market fee,) and when I was on chemo, she did the same. In return, I help support her family through her wages. I used to think that rich people who had others who kept their houses and their lawns were just lazy, but now I realize that it’s a reasonable way to spread the wealth and make my own life less hectic. I dread losing her when I retire because I’ll move farther away, but I will certainly try to hire another housekeeper, and I very much hope that my current one and her family will come visit for a nice weekend in the country when she doesn’t have to clean or cook.

  27. 27
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): You’re unlikely to meet any Merry Maids socially so let me suggest this to you: read nickle and dimed.

    I PROMISE you there are sole proprietors in your area who clean houses. They probably advertise on the supermarket pin board, will have good references, and probably do a better job b/c they are supplying their own chemicals.

    You could attempt to hire one of your “merry” maids direct but the franchise owner (who is getting most of that fat check you write) would get really pissed off. Tricky conversation.

    They are getting min wage, no bennies, and probably are experiencing wage theft on a daily basis. If they get hurt, they don’t get paid. I don’t know if you tip ’em or something but that might be a nice gesture.

    Trust me, they are NOT getting treated like the cleaning staff at Big Evil Corporation. (I live near East Division–Right To Work State Edition, so I know what I’m talking about.)

  28. 28
    JGabriel says:

    Betty Cracker @ Top:

    Fellowes said his background was considerably less posh than is generally assumed …

    I like the show, but I never really thought about whether Fellowes came from a similiarly posh background or not. I just figured that being a Tory peer was reason enough for me to despise him, regardless of his upbringing or my appreciation for his show.

  29. 29
    HinTN says:

    @Betty Cracker: He needed someone against whom he could calibrate his ego boost.

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Corner Stone: The PBA sucks bawls. The PBA sucks bawls. The PBA sucks bawls.

    There’s a reason a local sheriff in Florida is trying to break the FOP in her jail and sweep them under PBA again.

    There’s a reason that not long after Pink Slip Rick came into town the Teamsters successfully raided the enormous PBA state correctional officers’ unit.

    There’s a reason they’re nowhere to be seen in Tallahassee come legislature lobbyin’ time.

    The PBA sucks bawls.

    ETA: I don’t know if this is true in the Atlantic states, but in Florida it’s not uncommon for PBA to represent supervisors and FOP to represent rank and file correctional officers or cops. So that is why PBA has their nose up management and Republicans and they are often well rewarded for their loyalty.

  31. 31
    PurpleGirl says:

    Many years ago, in my first apartment, I had my family over for a holiday buffet. A few days later my mother tells me that my sister (10 years older and a cleaning nut) told her that I need to do a better job of cleaning, that there was a lot of dust around.

    My reaction was to tell my mother to tell my sister she had 3 choices:
    1) She could come over and clean for me;
    2) She could get used to the idea that her younger sister prefers to spend her time doing things other than cleaning; or
    3) She didn’t need to come and visit me.

    That was the only time my sister visited me at that apartment. (I lived there for 26 years.) I can and do live with a certain amount of chaos but things like garbage and recycling go out regularly. (People may remember that I compare my sister to Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances.)

  32. 32
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @MattF: I do basic cleaning myself. I bought janitorial supplies from the Aslett company. No powerful chemical odor to knock you out. I do it about every two weeks so now I feel better about myself. (I often feel bad that it’s not cleaned every other day, lol.)

    I hire people for deep/specialty cleaning, though. I only have so much energy, gotta dole that out. If I wasted my energy at work doing my fucking mandatory 43 hours (I would gladly take a 35 hour schedule) then let me just turn around and give that $100 to you and you can bleach the mildew. Kinda pointless but economic activity generated, I guess.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The words “strains credulity” do not even come close to describing how preposterous the idea is that Christie did not know, at least the outlines, of what his staff was doing.

    It’s been reported that there was a “private” telephone call in December in which Christie (allegedly) asked Cuomo to call off (or distract) Pat Foye:

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo [the week of December 9] to complain about a Cuomo appointee’s handling of a growing controversy over traffic pattern changes on the George Washington Bridge, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. […] A spokesman for Mr. Christie said the governor talks to Mr. Cuomo regularly “on any number of mutual-interest topics. Those conversations are private.” A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo declined to comment.

    Several things about this: What basis did Christie give for wanting an end to Foye’s investigation? What did Cuomo say or do in response? And, anyway, how do we know about this “private” telephone call? Who was this “person familiar with the matter”?

  34. 34
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @YellowJournalism: Heh, wow, that’s like me, I only like to clean when I’m alone in the house. I think it comes from the years of battles between me, my mom, and my siblings about cleaning. (I was the eldest and my mother was vindictive/lazy.) If someone else is around I start wondering why I’m working so hard to clean up their messes and lose all motivation.

  35. 35
    HinTN says:

    @Corner Stone:

    “Enraged Handsome Man Pummels Texans Owner”


    Not sure I agree about Manziel being a total bust, though he doesn’t really exhibit the work ethic required to be great.

  36. 36
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @hildebrand: Sounds like you backed her up in teaching the kids boundaries and respect for others. My grandmother, also, made the kids pick up before the cleaning lady came. Busiest day of the week. They had to bust their tail before she showed up, as if she were a guest.

    There’s nothing sadder than children who have been trained to believe that someone will always run behind them and pick up after them. I’ve even heard statements like “It’s their job, so why shouldn’t I just dump my stuff here.” It’s their job to clean the dust and dirt you tracked in, not pick up your shit like you’re an incontinent puppy.

  37. 37
    mellowjohn says:

    i believe it was writer/raconteur quentin crisp who said he maintained is living spaces in “an acceptable level of filth.”

  38. 38
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Maybe that will take care of him as Gov, or maybe not.

    He’s lost a lot of power already. He’s dying by the sword he lived by. He wielded a lot of intimidation that got compliance. Now his whole staff is clamped in irons and those once intimidated are unleashing the dogs. He’s on the run in NJ. So he could pull a comeback but right now the hunter is the hunted and the majority Dems are saber rattling. Next few months should be interesting.

  39. 39
    aimai says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I agree with this. Paying someone to do something for you that you don’t have the skill for, or the time for, is not a class issue. Pay a fair wage, treat people humanely, contract openly and whats the big fucking deal? I have cleaning people come in and clean my house once a week. I could clean the entire house but it would end up being a piecemeal process so the entire house would never be clean at once. This is demoralizing. If its your own space you tend to deep clean and organize each space on a case by case basis and then, having cleaned one room, you disorganize and dirty it again using it while the rest remains undone.

    Once, when I was a new mother in a strange place, I hired one of those “services” which charge a high fee and send over a couple of women. In talking to one of the women I discovered she was being paid 5 dollars an hour. Maybe that was minimum wage at that point, in IL (17 years ago) but I doubt it. At any rate I vowed then to never subcontract with someone but to hire directly a person who was able to set her own wage and keep it all. I pay probably the same in a per hour/per person fee but now I know that the entire amount goes to the woman doing the cleaning.

    There are some problems with this model–for instance I don’t know if my cleaner is paying her self employment tax and I am not paying the tax for her so I don’t know if she qualifies for social security. Also: no benefits or health care which, theoretically, an agency could be providing for her. But if those benefits were available through working for an agency I’d think she’d work for an agency. As far as I know from talking to the woman 17years ago she received no benefits (health care, sick days, etc..)

    I do expect my children to be able to clean up after themselves and to be able to clean a kitchen and a bathroom but I think they will be able to figure it out when they are sharing with roommates. Its not rocket science.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I think if you have too much shit to take care of yourself, you have too much shit.

    Betty, a rather well off Arkansas buddy of mine couldn’t agree with you more. The more sh!t you have, the more time you have to spend taking care of it. He’s retired now, and never gets a moments rest because of all the sh!t he has. Keeps swearing he’s gonna start selling it, than goes out and buys another tractor or something.

  41. 41
    Cervantes says:

    @mellowjohn: That was Quentin all right. Asked about the state of his rooms in Chelsea, not cleaned once in more than two decades, he said: “After the first four years, the dirt does not get any worse.”

  42. 42

    BC, you pen an interesting tale, and well-told. Thank you for sharing this. Recent dinner conversations with my two teens have turned to the value of labor and its place in both society and economy, we’ll probably be talking about your post over tonights meal. Kind of eerie how timely this is.

    Some good football on tap today and tomorrow – good solid teams that are fun to watch. Not too certain how ‘Niners will fare with Carolina, but the rest of the games are going to be interesting. All of this years teams are worthy contenders for SB, as are the match-ups.

  43. 43
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @mellowjohn: I have allergies. Filth is not an option.

    Confession: I watched Hoarding:Buried Alive and Hoarders obsessively.

    My mother hoards. I think it’s a brew of narcissism+trauma. Sometimes there is brain damage, saw that on the shows often enough. If my mother has executive functioning deficits, though, she hides it well.

    I’ve got pity for someone with untreated or ineffectually treated PTSD and ADD who feels like they can’t remember anything and their brain is exploding and keeps things to keep memories and thoughts in order (which of course doesn’t work, just like a lot of ‘coping’ strategies fail). Less so for a selfish person who uses their hoard to control others in their life. Or who ruins their family’s finances with an addiction to aspirational purchases. It’s like gambling or cocaine, people.

  44. 44
    aimai says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I do agree with this–“things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” The more stuff you have the more time you spend as a custodian for stuff: thinking about it, picking it up, dusting it, worrying about it breaking or getting stolen, not having a place for it.

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @aimai: We have a woman that comes in twice a month. We pay her $35 an hour and it is important to the bride. She busts her ass in the garden so it’s not a matter of not being willing to work hard. In fact, she busts her ass the night before the lady comes so I got shit to say about it.

  46. 46
    aimai says:

    @Another Holocene Human: AHH, I notice you brought up nickled and dimed upthread and beat me to a criticism of merry maids. Good for you! Absolutely correct. Have you read the book “Stuff” (Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things). Its really very, very, good and quite eye opening.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:


    Not sure I agree about Manziel being a total bust, though he doesn’t really exhibit the work ethic required to be great.

    To this point he certainly hasn’t demonstrated the mentality that would lead me to believe he can survive an NFL locker room during ups and downs. But he’s young, so maybe he’ll grow into it.
    What he will *not* grow into, however, is a physical presence that can withstand weekly hits by full grown men who are as fast as he is and really want to drive his throwing shoulder 6 inches into the turf.
    He simply can not withstand the physicality needed to use his most valuable asset – his legs.
    They have him listed as 6’1″ and 209 which is as completely unbelievable as Gov Christie not knowing about the bridge bullshit. Manziel is 5’10” at the very best, and more like 185.
    They have Russell Wilson listed as 5’11”, which is also crap, but at 206 which may actually be true.
    If he started 10 games a season in any of his first three seasons in the NFL I would be shocked. And if Jacksonville takes him, as some predict? He may not survive his first six games.

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    The one time I hired cleaning help in my current place, the day turned cold and it began to rain. The woman did not have gloves or an umbrella with her. So I found an extra pair of gloves and an umbrella and gave them to her. It was cold and raining and I had extra…

  49. 49
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @aimai: They don’t get benefits and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are keeping them under 30 hours and 1099’ing them because GWB made it very easy to 1099 ANYONE even if they come to your place of business and work for you every fucking day.

    Then we who make more than EITC levels subsidize those shitty employers as our income tax goes to make up the lost earnings of those 1099’d low wage workers through EITC.

    At least EITC does get them in the social security system. (If you are low wage, EITC will basically refund the self-employment tax and then some. These folks often go to tax preparers who of course eat up a good portion of their EITC because we can’t have, say, a government office to do such things. United Way offers a tax service for free but they don’t offer rip-off “instant” refunds and it’s not always easy to find out about it.)

    The system is rigged.

  50. 50
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Don’t let anyone ever tell you that girls/women are somehow “naturally” good housekeepers, because it’s bullshit.

    I see it as a ploy to give women all the housework.

    We’re middling; I do the vacuuming, laundry, and cat litter but also got Robot help with that. Mr WereBear does most other cat maintenance, dishes & kitchen, and we share the bathroom, trash, and recycling.

    Dusting gets neglected unless guests are expected.

    One of the things I hate about housecleaning is that, done properly, no one can tell it’s been done. There’s no feedback, dammit.

    I would not KILL to get regular housecleaning help, but I would make harassing phone calls to known wingnut grifters. I was one of those children who was tormented into doing far more of their share of housework, under very trying circumstances, and I have PTSD about it.

  51. 51
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @aimai: Not that one, think I’m scared of it. I read Matt Paxton’s book. He’s a recovering alcoholic (and not a psychologist) so he had an interesting take on things. He’s a touch reactionary but I like his no-nonsense attitude and I think people related to the fact that he really had been there and knew what they were going through.

    I’m gonna make a note to pick up Stuff since you recommended it, though.

  52. 52
    PurpleGirl says:

    @aimai: I’ve read “Stuff”. It’s a good book and thought provoking.

  53. 53
    greennotGreen says:

    @aimai: Yeah, but…
    One of my two major hobbies is making art, and part of that is making multimedia…things. I make stuff out of painted cans, I quilt, I make broken pottery mosaics, paper mache sculpture, and I make bead jewelry. All of those supplies and equipment are things and have to be kept in order. If order were my most important value, creativity would lose out. It’s a question of balance.

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I agree that his former bluster has been rendered almost useless now. Even in the murky world of NJ politics his threats are going to be met with, “Yeah? You sure you want to cut funding for that project in my district?”

  55. 55
    Corner Stone says:

    @greennotGreen: Things for sale somewhere, or more for personal satisfaction?

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cervantes: And even more damning, or at least really curious, is the report of the meeting between David Samson and Christie the week before the GWB closures. Orchestrated by Wildstein (IIRC). And so if what Joan Walsh quotes here is true:
    “After Port Authority officials reopen the Fort Lee lanes, Wilstein tells Kelly that close Christie ally and chair of the commission that runs the Port Authority, David Samson, “is helping us to retaliate.”

    Then that’s pretty much a punch to the gambones.

  57. 57
    aimai says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Its really a very beautiful book, actually. I felt it was incredibly sympathetic to everyone’s issues. I think you will enjoy it. I also read a fantastic book about decluttering from a Buddhist perspective (I know! It sounds ridiculous) but it was very thought provoking as well and I’ve used the ideas I picked up to simplify my relationship with things–being more willing to let go of objects that symbolized previous lives or ideas about myself or even relationships. If the relationship is important, you hang on to that and not the thing.

  58. 58

    We had help when I was growing up, but not since I became an adult. Has anyone been paying attention to the case of the Indian diplomat and her domestic help? An interesting case study, especially India’s over the top official response.

  59. 59
    aimai says:


    Sure, if your art is made of things then things aren’t your problem, they are your medium. My mother is an artist and she keeps a lot of stuff around for her art–both ordinary art supplies and things like random leaves and seeds or feathers. There’s nothing wrong with that–thats not what I’m talking about at all. But most people aren’t you–and most hoarders only think they will use the stuff they hoard. Its actually a pretty common fantasy that they will someday use the things they are hanging on to and they see a beauty or utility in something that other people don’t see. Needless to say theres an enormous gulf between a normal and a pathological version of these two states.

  60. 60
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s because she comes from a powerful family and the officials are all part of her elevated social caste. She got arrested and strip searched and they call it a human rights abuse. They also were retaliating against the maid’s family in India. Really, really ugly case. Anyway, you get strip searched when you’re arrested in NYC and if that’s a problem what about the other hundreds of thousands of little people getting arrested? Oh, they’re not MOTUs, guess that’s the difference.

    India can rage all they want AFAIC.

  61. 61
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: What little I heard made the diplomat out to be a monster, but I don’t know her at all. What’s your take?

  62. 62

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I PROMISE you there are sole proprietors in your area who clean houses.

    Yes, and because I’m in Southern California, the sole proprietors all use illegal workers, so my options are exploited legal workers or exploited illegal workers.

    Pick your poison.

  63. 63
    WereBear says:

    @PurpleGirl: (People may remember that I compare my sister to Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances.)

    Day-um. We also had a relative who reminded us… but in a far more benign way.

    There’s some things that are always open to criticism:

    A woman can be told she’s too fat.
    A man can be told he’s too effeminate.
    An actor can be told they’re over-acting.
    Anyone can be told their house is not clean enough.

    It’s all stupid.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    Alabama Hires Lane Kiffin as NCAA Violation Coordinator

    “TUSCALOOSA , Ala. – Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced the hiring of Lane Kiffin Friday as NCAA Violation Coordinator. Kiffin, who was fired as head coach at USC only five games into the 2013 season, is renowned in coaching circles for his creative approach to flaunting NCAA regulations.

    “I am tremendously excited about Lane joining our staff,” said Saban. “We’ve broken all the easy rules. Lane will take us to a whole ‘nother level.”

  65. 65

    @Another Holocene Human: She is from a lower caste apparently but she is a high level bureaucrat and a member of India’s Civil Services. These top level officers may not get paid that well but they get perks (along with servants paid by tax-payer money) like a latter day Earl Grantham. They are certainly more equal than your ordinary citizen

    .@Cervantes: I don’t necessarily think that she is a monster. People of her strata of society feel like they are entitled to servants. She is probably typical of India’s entitled civil servant class. There are probably other diplomats doing what she has been accused of doing or worse. The only difference, she got caught.
    As for India’s official response I think it is churlish and stupid.

  66. 66
    Snarla says:

    Sour grapes. I have a cleaning person, pool service, and lawn service. I prefer to pay than to do it myself. Those people enjoy getting paid. It works for everybody.

  67. 67
    Big R says:

    @Another Holocene Human: PBA ain’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s pretty good in states like mine where cops can’t strike or collectively bargain. I represent a newly-retired sheriff’s deputy in [REDACTED] on an unpaid overtime claim against the department, and his PBA is paying my fees (at a lower-than market rate, true, but they bloody PAY, unlike most clients) and expenses. All they ask is that we seek any attorney’s fee award that we may be entitled to, and that if we get a fee award, that they be reimbursed. Any fee award over and above PBA expenditures? Ours (mine and co-counsel’s) to keep. Seriously. This guy is getting two lawyers (a former cop and an employment specialist) for NOTHING; and we don’t even have to worry about “are we going to get paid on this in the sweet by and by?”

    So, yeah, PBA isn’t as good as a real, honest-to-G-d union; but it hardly sucks bawls.

  68. 68
    Corner Stone says:

    @Snarla: Any chance you’re open to an adoption?

  69. 69
    Cervantes says:

    @Corner Stone: Thanks for the link to the Walsh piece. Yes, one would like to know if/why Samson & Christie met, and also why Wildstein said that Samson was helping the plotters “retaliate.”

    Given the size and power of the Port Authority — there are 26 states with smaller budgets than it has — I guess we should not be surprised by what we’re seeing.

  70. 70
    HinTN says:

    @raven: Let the good times roll.

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    @aimai: I would be interested in knowing the name of that book, if you have it.

  72. 72
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Strip searched no matter what you are arrested for? Yikes!

  73. 73
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @WaterGirl: That was my reaction but apparently I gathered from NYC comments that was SOP so again why is this only a scandal when it happens to a VSP?

    Anyway, if she had cooperated with authorities likely a lot of that wouldn’t have happened. Shoulda hired a slimebucket local lawyer, the ones that are always getting crooks weekends off from jail so they can go to Atlantic City religious services and get special “religious” food trucked in.

    This one chabadnik got a lawyer who got him house arrest instead of jail. He impregnated his girlfriend while under house arrest and is getting a vacation from house arrest to marry her. Also, they let him leave the house to go visit the dead Rebbe. (Yes, I said dead: suck it, cultists.)

    She didn’t cooperate with authorities so she got picked up, cuffed, and taken away. I guess after all that time in NYC she really learned nothing. Guess the Indian civil service isn’t paying for competence.

    I’m joking but not really.

  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    but apparently I gathered from NYC comments that was SOP so again why is this only a scandal when it happens to a VSP?

    The scandal is why would that be acceptable to anyone?

  75. 75

    @Another Holocene Human: Her father is a civil servant too, she is probably the Luke Russert of the diplomatic corps. Nepotism for FTW.

  76. 76
    Rebecca Allen says:

    I see your point about having too much stuff. That said, my husband and I do employ a housekeeper, upon whom we are very dependent. We are a childless, two-career couple with very demanding jobs. We routinely work into the evening and on weekends (I am currently avoiding 3 reports I need to write this weekend). Taking care of our house (actually a condo, yes we are aging yuppies) would be very hard for us to do on top of everything else. Yes, I know there are lots of families with children in which the parents work very long hours and can’t afford a housekeeper. I see families like that every day in my job, and many of them are struggling terribly. We cope with our guilt about our better circumstances by working to help those families to the extent we can, giving to charities and supporting politicians that promise to raise our taxes. And yes, we pay our housekeeper’s FICA taxes (both our share and hers).

    As for football, GO SEAHAWKS!!! Sorry, I live in Washington state.

  77. 77
    Aimai says:

    @WaterGirl: i dont, Im sorry. Read it in one sitting at the library.

  78. 78
    gelfling545 says:

    I long ago adopted the philosophy of “Do not break another man’s rice bowl.” In other words, if you can pay for services, you should pay for services. There is no particular virtue, to my mind, for doing work yourself for which you can well afford to pay someone who earns their living by doing such work. This is otherwise known as stimulating the economy. As I get older, I find myself needing to pay for services that I can’t very well afford to pay for but can no longer do or rope my children into doing (as they are pretty busy with their own stuff). I just make sure that the worker is being paid a legal wage & is covered by appropriate legal protections.

  79. 79
    raven says:


  80. 80
    raven says:

    @gelfling545: The Sand Pebbles.

  81. 81
    oldster says:

    Wait–15 years ago you were a 20-something? So now you’re a 35-something?

    Man, that makes me feel even older.

  82. 82
    Betty Cracker says:

    @oldster: I wish. I was in my late 20s when I met the mister, and we were together for awhile before we got married.

  83. 83
    Cervantes says:

    Quentin Crisp wrote The Naked Civil Servant, which brings to mind the Indian diplomat undergoing a cavity search, which brings to mind Cormac McCarthy’s estranged wife.

    It’s time for a martini.

  84. 84
    James E. Powell says:


    It’s been reported that there was a “private” telephone call in December in which Christie (allegedly) asked Cuomo to call off (or distract) Pat Foye:

    I would love it if whatever happened in and after that phone call eliminated both of them from any consideration as presidential candidates.

  85. 85
    Corner Stone says:

    @James E. Powell: I have to think, and with no proof on it, that if Cuomo could feasibly sink Christie without just flat out testifying against him, he would.
    The small leaks so far have been golden. We can only wish that at some point Cuomo gets a chance to casually say, “I have no knowledge of that.”
    Boom! Roasted!

  86. 86
    Yatsuno says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    These folks often go to tax preparers who of course eat up a good portion of their EITC because we can’t have, say, a government office to do such things

    This is not true. All IRS offices offer tax return preparation plus there are VITA programs that train volunteers to do taxes for the poor and elderly as well. My big beef is that these are very poorly advertised. But yes there are other options than a paid preparer especially if you’re low income.

  87. 87

    @Yatsuno: Doing your own taxes is not that hard too, is it, especially if one is going to take the standard deduction and not itemize.

  88. 88
    gmann says:

    Just a guess using the google machine. . .

  89. 89
    BH in MA says:

    My wife and I recognized long ago that we’re both really bad at housecleaning. We keep things generally tidy, but have someone in to CLEAN – vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, change beds, etc. And I cut the grass myself for 10 years, but when the second kid arrived, it kept being the chore that would be put off. And put off grass cutting for a couple of days and it ends up taking twice as long. I hated it. I finally hired somebody to come cut the grass and I think it’s money well spent because every time I come home and see the freshly cut grass, it makes me HAPPY. Even now, over five years later, I haven’t gotten used to it. I’m almost giddy.

  90. 90
    Paul in KY says:

    @Betty Cracker: I guess he wasn’t…

  91. 91
    Paul in KY says:

    @Corner Stone: That’s why the Browns will draft him!

  92. 92
    Paul in KY says:

    I have a person come in for 3 hours every 2 weeks. Money well spent to have house look good enough to bring people over, etc. I personally can tolerate alot of crud, more than most visitors would/could so this is best for all.

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